(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Auditor will be sued again for withholding payments from the county attorney's law firm. Attorney Shaw Friedman plans on suing Tim Stabosz for non-payment.
He said Stabosz will be sued as an individual for acting outside the scope of his duties as auditor to protect taxpayers from incurring any legal expenses or costs.
For several weeks, Stabosz has withheld payment to Friedman & Associates on work this year he questions as valid. A 4-3 majority of the La Porte County Council this week voted to support Stabosz in his responsibilities to audit claims. Councilwoman Connie Gramarossa, who voted in support of the resolution, said it's the council's responsibility to support Stabosz.
Stabosz alleges Friedman bills the county not just for legal work but what Stabosz believes is political work and other things more in line with the duties of a county manager. Councilman Earl Cunningham agreed with Stabosz and believed that elected officials could perform some of Friedman's responsibilities at no additional expense. Cunningham, however, did support Friedman & Associates getting paid for any claims not under review.
One area of contention is that Stabosz is withholding more than just the claims he wants verified, which the council voted not to support. Council President Randy Novak said he should withhold payment on claims he feels are questionable until they're confirmed as legitimate or not legitimate.
Stabosz also withheld payment to Friedman last year for work he questioned as valid and other claims submitted by the county attorney. The La Porte County Commissioners sued Stabosz for ignoring their orders to pay Friedman. Both sides reached an out-of-court settlement where Stabosz paid Friedman much of what he was owed but not the amount Stabosz questioned as valid.
Under that settlement, Stabosz released payments of $26,169 to Friedman & Associates but was not required to release the remaining $2,500 payments withheld from Friedman's September, October, and November invoices.
Attorney Dave Ambers representing Friedman, said he would file the lawsuit late this week or next week. Ambers declined further comment to avoid trying the soon-to-be-filed case in public.
Friedman is presently suing Stabosz on allegations of defamation of character on claims the auditor made against the county attorney over a year ago. That case has not been decided.